Newport Manners + Etiquette: Dad Dilemmas

Wednesday, June 12, 2013


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Dad can't dress himself? Didi knows exactly what you should get him to make it easier!

Most dads like the idea of Father's Day, but complain it is too commercial. Wedding Etiquette dress code for dad is a white dinner jacket in an August family wedding. How to find your biological father. What to do when dad is banned from the funeral? All dad questions to Didi Lorillard at NewportManners this June.

Dear Didi,

For Father's Day, we want to buy dad a white dinner jacket. We have an evening family wedding in August and we want him looking sharp, yet summery. What should we look for in terms of style and should the jacket be white or off-white? One button or two? What does he wear besides the jacket? K.R., Newport

Dear K.R.,

For standard formal wear in summer, the proper dinner jacket is ivory. A pure white jacket is worn mostly by waiters. The off-white, ivory dinner jacket would have a shawl lapel (a lapel in the same fabric as the jacket) and not a silk-faced lapel. On a shawl-lapelled jacket there should be two buttons. Single-breasted white dinner jackets are more common. Double breasted are considered equally appropriate and have three buttons. The ventless style is the most formal.

Whether the dinner jacket has one button or two depends largely on the girth of the man. A two-button jacket restricts movement, so if your father would be more comfortable in a one-button jacket, that's your answer. But of course the bottom button of the two-button jacket is not buttoned.

With an ivory or cream-colored dinner jacket, your father can wear standard tuxedo trousers, a white dress shirt with French cuffs and silver cufflinks after six o'clock (gold cufflinks and watches aren't worn at night) and a black silk bow tie. Black silk socks up to the knee and black patent leather shoes. He'll want to have a white pocket square handkerchief in his breast pocket, if it doesn't interfere with a boutonniere. ~Didi

Anonymous Father's Day

Dear Didi,

I want to meet my biological father. I know his donor number, but that's all I know about him. D.O., Brooklyn

Dear D.O.,

Father's Day is as good as any day to start searching for your father. Google 'How do I find my biological father' and a wealth of information will pop up, such as the website OmniTrace. Best of luck to you in your search. ~Didi

Dear Didi,

Does a funeral director have the right to ban a father from attending the wake and funeral of his deceased son? I understand maybe at his funeral home but what about a church where everyone is supposedly welcome no matter what the request of the paying client? Name and address withheld

Dear Sir:

A house of worship is open to the public, and a funeral director has no right to deny access there. The only exception is to control a section of the church by cording it off with a red velvet rope and a small sign saying "By Invitation Only." Then those who have not been personally invited are encouraged to sit outside the roped-off area. It is more about providing enough room for the family and close friends, especially when the person was popular or a celebrity.

On the other hand, if the partner or closest relative of the deceased asks a person not to attend the reception, they should honor his or her wish. In most cases the reception is at home and for whatever reason, if that person doesn't want someone in their house at the reception they are hosting, he or she shouldn't attend. In this case, the funeral director or a designated family member could be on the look-out for the unwanted guest. ~Didi

Dear Didi,

I am on the Board of an Home Owners Association. A neighbor's dad passed almost two months ago. He was a resident in our subdivision. We just heard about his death. Is it too late to send a card, flowers, etc.? W.L., Needham, MA

Dear W.L.,

It is never too late to send a condolence card. Better late than never. Although you might not want to send one a year after the death saying you just found out. ~Didi


We like hearing from you at and if we use your question, we can certainly withhold your name and address. Didi researches etiquette and all matters of manners for her book, "Newport Etiquette." Or you can ask a question on Didi Lorillard's Facebook page or Twitter. Prior weekly GoLocalProv columns are listed below and can also be accessed through search.


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